Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. – Colossians 1:24
Scripture reading: Psalm 2
Living a life worthy of being in Christ costs Paul a lot of suffering. Yet, that he rejoices in this should not surprise us for earlier in his letter he prayed that the Father of the Lord Jesus would strengthen the Colossians with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (1:11). What he prayed for them, he had experienced and was still experiencing himself!
God was strengthening Paul in his sufferings for the sake of Christ by reminding him that in his sufferings he was filling up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body. Now, only Christ could and did bear this suffering. As a result, there is nothing lacking in this suffering for our sin.
But there is another kind of suffering the Lord Jesus endured while on earth. Psalm 2 speaks about the nations raging, the peoples plotting in vain and the kings of the earth rebelling and the rulers taking counsel together against the LORD and His anointed. As the Anointed of the LORD, Christ experienced the affliction of this opposition. While Christ is in heaven, He continues to experience opposition in His body, His church. Thus, when Paul and other Christians experience opposition to living a life worthy of being in Christ, they fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for these will not be over until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Paul considers it an honour and joy to fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask your heavenly Father to enable you to rejoice in your sufferings for Christ because you are filling up what is lacking in His sufferings for the sake of His body.